A successful college search begins with the right questions

With more than 1,600 U.S. colleges and universities to choose from, families may find the college search daunting at first. But fear not: The process can actually be fun and rewarding if approached in the right way. The key to simplifying this process is knowing what questions to ask yourself and the colleges you are considering. You don’t need to know the answers – and frankly, the answers you have now may change over time. But using these categories and questions as a guideline will give you an informed foundation for launching and narrowing your search. The right school for you will fit you in three important ways: academically, personally and financially. Here are a few questions to consider in each category. Academics As you approach this process you may have a firm idea of what you’re looking to study, or you may have no idea whatsoever. Either is OK. Finding the right academic environment is about much more than ensuring a college or university offers your desired major. (In fact, 80 percent of college students end up changing majors at least once.) When considering schools, ask yourself: What kind of learning environment suits me best? Do I learn best through small-class discussion or large lectures? Am I a good self-advocate? Will I seek out additional resources to learn when challenged? What...

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